Gillard: Reforms won't come with handouts


The trucking industry is facing a number of new reforms, but operators shouldn't expect financial assistance to help them adapt

By Brad Gardner | October 13, 2010

Despite a wave of reforms likely to impose extra costs on the trucking industry, businesses should not expect financial assistance to help them adapt.

In an address to the Queensland Media Club yesterday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard warned reforms implemented by her government will not come with cash handouts.

The Federal Government is currently working on the development of a new road charging scheme and putting a price on carbon. It has also committed to overhauling pay rates in the trucking industry to improve safety.

"Reform is always tough, but it’s particularly tough in a tight fiscal environment," Gillard says.

"Some governments have the freedom to throw cash at those who might lose out; it’s clear that my government won’t be one of them."

A sub-group of the Council of Australian Governments will next year report on the feasibility of mass-distance-location pricing for trucks. If implemented, the scheme will require all trucks to be fitted with GPS to monitor their movements, the weight of the load and the distance they travel.

A policy discussion paper on reforming remuneration methods was due to be released in July. Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans is yet to announce when it will be released.

While saying it is not easy, Gillard used her speech to highlight the importance of reform.

"Economic reform is good for our economy, and it’s good for our society. It makes our economy stronger and it shares opportunity with more people. It’s not easy but it works," she says.

Despite its strong financial position, Gillard says the Australian economy faces challenges due to Asia’s thirst for resources.

"If the emerging Asian economies continue to grow while Europe and the US stagnate, then the gap between global demand for our mining and energy compared to our manufactured goods and services will continue to widen," she says.

While praising commodity exports in raising living standards, Gillard says Australia faces a "big risk" if it becomes too dependent on one sector.

"Even while demand for commodities remains strong, we face the risk of a patchwork economy – an economy where some of the country booms while other parts go backwards," she says.


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